HIS Children's Camp hosts Barry County kids

Thursday, June 8, 2006

The 41st annual Barry County Youth Camp was held at HIS Children's Camp in Ridgley from May 30 through June 2.

Around 85 campers, 20 camp counselors and several staff members swarmed HIS Children's Camp to enjoy a fun-filled and educational week of camp.

"The Barry County Youth Camp provides a place where these kids can feel safe," said Sarah Davis, camp director. "The kids get to learn how to share, be responsible and just have fun. They get away from their environment and come here to just be a kid for a week.

"A lot of these kids don't get a lot at home," said Davis. "When they come here they have no worries for a week."

Campers played games like noodle tag, flag football and water dodge ball and participated in archery and shooting events. They also had the opportunity to go swimming at the Cassville Family Aquatic Center and acquired new friends from across Barry County.

This year's camp theme was modeled after the television show "Survivor." The camp was decorated to reflect the "Survivor" theme, and groups competed in fun competitions throughout the week.

Each camper received a Barry County Youth Camp T-shirt that displayed the 2006 Survivor-inspired camp logo.

On the final night of the camp, the kids were treated to a camp carnival with free games, prizes, music, dancing and unlimited snow cones, cotton candy and popcorn. Campers, staff members and counselors enjoyed the carnival party together.

"These counselors leave an impact on the kids," said Davis. "The campers learn that they can talk to their counselors about anything."

Barry County Youth Camp counselors come from Springfield, Nixa, Strafford and across Barry County. Each counselor must fill out an application and undergo an extensive reference check before being selected to serve at the camp.

Many of this year's counselors have participated in the camp for over two years.

"Camp counselors are purely voluntary. None are paid for their time," said Davis. "They enjoy working with the kids. Many of our counselors are in college and want to learn more about kids. Some are studying child psychology and therapy."

Davis believes the Barry County Youth Camp makes a lasting impression on both the campers and the counselors.

"Many of these kids will be crying when they leave the camp," said Davis. "I know they have had a great time when they don't want to leave."

Davis commended HIS Children's Camp for providing a safe environment for this year's Barry County Youth Camp.

"I think this is a positive place," said Davis. "It will grow and it is an excellent place for the kids to feel safe.

"We have the same goals for the kids," said Davis. "We want to get them here and help them feel safe. HIS Children's Camp has a wonderful staff."

HIS Children's Camp provided six cabins to house the Barry County Youth campers and staff during the week of camp. A new well was drilled and water was hooked up to the final cabin only hours before the counselors arrived, said Kenny Abbott, HIS Camp co-founder.

Volunteers from Monett, northwest Arkansas, Springfield and Barry County helped get the camp ready for the 2006 Youth Camp. Ridgley First Baptist Church provided its Outreach Center as a camp dining hall for the week.

In past years, the Barry County Youth Camp was held at Camp Soaring Hawk, which is now known as Camp Barnabas, and then Camp Smokey in Roaring River State Park.

The Barry County Youth Camp is funded through private donations and annual fundraisers.

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